Does This Sound Right to You?

Jacari CampbellThere is a young man who needs help, but before I tell you why, let me share a little about who he is. His name is Jacari Campbell, he is 21 years-old and he has just been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a crime that even his trial judge had doubts about his guilt. Jacari Campbell is regarded by all that know him as a fun loving and respectful young man that spent much of his free time training to play college football. Up until his arrest in October of 2012, Jacari was a student at Tallahassee Community College; he was just one semester from earning his Associates degree. Jacari had spent the summer working in a local restaurant to earn enough money to contribute to the car his parents were purchasing for him so that he would no longer have to take the bus or depend on others for transportation. This is an important point that Jacari contributed toward his car, because it demonstrates his work ethic, integrity and lack of entitlement; it is not the behavior of someone who commits armed robbery to get what they want. In fact, Jacari had never been in legal trouble before; he had no history of violence, fights or physical encounters beyond the football field. He had a spotless record with all of his former employers; he was respected within his community and an active member of his church.

As with all of us, Jacari was not a perfect human being, the immediate events leading up to the crime he was charged with demonstrates more than anything does, that he was a typical young man. He could be your son, your brother, your best friend. Those events also show grave inconsistencies and contradictions, which show more than a little reasonable doubt. Jacari’s alleged involvement in the crime seems to have begun the previous Monday, when he was invited to the home of a co-worker, Eugene Cole, whom he knew from his college work-study, program to watch the Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys. Also in attendance was Cole’s roommate Willmore Stuart; Stuart would later become the sole witness against Jacari. If all three young men watched the entire game, they would have spent approximately 3 hours together in Cole and Stuart’s apartment. This is important because less than six days later, Stuart would tell police at the scene that the person who held him at gunpoint was a stranger whom he had never seen before.

According to Jacari, on October 6 he and his roommate were planning a night out to attend to attend a couple of parties. As a prelude, Jacari stated that he called Cole to purchase marijuana from him. Cole told Jacari that he was out of town and unsure of when he would return. In court, Cole would later testify that he believed that Jacari was calling to make sure he was away. Jacari states that he attended two parties that night and was at the second during the time the robbery would have taken place. Three witnesses to Jacari’s presence at the second party signed affidavits, but were never called to testify. The robbery occurred sometime between two and three a.m. The details of the crime are at best sketchy. Stuart is said to have been in the house with just his girlfriend, Brittany Hamilton, when a noise of someone breaking in woke them both; no other housemates were there at the time. According to Ms. Hamilton, the residence was completely dark, no lights were turned on, and while Stuart went to investigate the noise, she went into a closet to dial 911.

At the center of the trial, Willmore Stuart proved to be anything but reliable. He contradicts Ms. Hamilton with regard to there being lights on and initially, he doesn’t identify Jacari to police, his girlfriend or his housemate Cole. Later, when Eugene Cole returns, he questions Stuart and asks for a description, which Cole believes matches that of his co-worker Jacari. He shows Stuart Jacari’s Facebook profile, but Stuart is still unsure. Sometime later that day, Cole and Stuart decide to go to Jacari’s residence to confront him. After a brief conversation and with the urging of Cole, Stuart is now convinced that Jacari was the unmasked gunman. Stuart also claimed that there was a second robber in the house that night, a large man who stood 6’ 1” or 6’ 2” and weighed about 300 pounds; the man never confronts him and spends the entire time ransacking the rest of the home. This man has never been found, nor does he fit the description of any of Jacari’s friends. In addition, Stuart suggests that he brought the gunman an IPad, a laptop and a set of Beats headphone, while the gunman continued to hold on to the gun. Stuart finally claims that he was able to slam his bedroom shut, pressing his body against it, but the robbers made no attempt to re-enter the room and continued to search to apartment. Here are other key facts around the case:

  • The gunman did not wear a mask or gloves.
  • Several of the items in question were dropped outside the apartment.
  • Neither Jacari’s fingerprints nor DNA was found on those items or at the scene.
  • The witnesses who could place Jacari at the party were never called to testify.
  • Jacari does not testify in his defense, he is not allowed to do so by his attorney.
  • There is no record of Jacari even owning, possessing, or purchasing a gun before that night.
  • None of the stolen articles was found in Jacari’s possession.
  • Jacari goes willingly to the police station to answer questions.
  • Jacari does not invoke his rights.
  • Jacari does not bring an attorney.
  • Jacari is arrested on the spot.

Some things to consider:

  • Why does a young man with no criminal record commit armed robbery for no apparent reason?
  • Why did it take Stuart so long to identify Jacari?

Ask yourself these two questions, and then ask yourself whether there is reasonable doubt in this case.

Jacari Campbell was sentence to ten years in prison because of Florida’s 10-20-Life minimum sentencing law. That means that “courts must impose the minimum sentence regardless of any mitigating circumstance; that no part of the sentence may be suspended, deferred, or withheld, and defendants are not eligible for any discretionary early release, other than pardon or clemency, or conditional medical release, before serving the minimum sentence.”

If you, in any way, believe that justice was not done in this case, Jacari’s family is asking that you contribute whatever you can to his defense and appeal. Please visit “Jacari’s Defense Fund” and help this young man seek a fair trial.

Let me know what you think by posting a comment.

~ Richard


About Richard
I have spent my entire life learning to be a better communicator in in all facets of my life. I have learned as much from my failures as I have from success; laughing, crying and loving along the way. After earning a B.S. in Communications I decided to share what I have learned while continuing my own personal growth. I believe that the better we are to each other, the richer our lives will become.

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